2016 Running Goals Update: June and July

I’ve felt really disorganized and unfocused for the last month or so, and it’s really surprised me. I think I’m almost out the other side now, though. I’ll have to see how it goes!

At the beginning of the summer, I exhibited what I now feel was some impressive willpower by continuing to run after work even though it was hot. But you guys… it’s still so hot. My mental game is weakening. I can neither be bothered to get up early enough to avoid the heat, nor get out and run in it.

So, I’m diversifying. I’m making an effort to still get out and do something, even if it’s not running. The following activities have made appearances lately:

  • Hiking
  • Going to the honest to goodness gym (okay this was only the one time but I plan to go again)
  • Standing in the pool (this might not be exercise)

Onward…

1. RUN 5K IN UNDER 30 MINUTES.

Done in May! 29:53.

2. RUN A MILE IN UNDER 8:30.

I’m just killing it on my no-timed-miles streak.

3. RUN 10 MILES.

Not yet. One 6.2 towards the end of June, and another at the Kenwood Footrace on the Fourth of July. Still working my way up…

4. TRY RUNNING BEFORE WORK.

Nope nope nope.

5. RUN 5 DAYS A WEEK FOR ONE MONTH.

Done and done!

2016 Running Goals Update: May

1. RUN 5K IN UNDER 30 MINUTES.

Done! 29:53, three weeks ago, on my usual route around the neighborhood.

You may remember, I started the new year having recently run 31:57. At the time, I thought I was already extremely close to reaching this goal. I felt sure I’d hit 30 minutes within a month or two.

So, I feel a little silly sitting here five months later, finally checking this one off. Really, though, I’ve been working towards this goal the whole time I’ve been running – ever since I ran 36:29 in my very first 5k in April 2012. It took me three and a half years to knock off five minutes.

That makes two minutes in five months seem pretty fantastic.

2. RUN A MILE IN UNDER 8:30.

I’ve been very consistent at not running any timed miles at all this spring. If I really push, I may be able to successfully continue this streak through the summer.

3. RUN 10 MILES.

Four runs over five miles in May! Working my way up.

It’s been hot, so I’m running into some issues with needing to bring a little water but deeply hating carrying a handheld bottle. Five trail miles takes me about an hour, so I’m definitely going to need a solution if I’m going to make it to ten. Anyone have any hydration vest or pack suggestions?

4. TRY RUNNING BEFORE WORK.

I started working 8 to 4 instead of 9 to 5. I might never do this.

5. RUN 5 DAYS A WEEK FOR ONE MONTH.

Done and done!

May Running Madness: Weeks 2, 3, and 4

Let’s Count Things
May 9 – 15

Runs: 5
Miles: 12.9 (5.5, 2, 2, 1, 2.3)
Times I couldn’t not run to the lake: 1
Parks visited: 3 (Spring Lake, Annadel, Crane Creek)

May 16 – 22

Runs: 4
Miles: 10.7 (2, 2.2, 1.4, 5.1)
Buddy runs: 1, the very best 1
Baths: 2

May 23 – 29

Runs: 3
Miles: 6.7 (1.1, 3.1, 2.5)
Times I ran 5k in under 30 minutes: 1!!!!!
Beers: ??

Reflections
Let’s not get technical

As you can see from the numbers, my enthusiasm for this goal waned after the middle of the month. I technically failed this goal by missing one run in Week 3 and two runs in Week 4. Still, I feel that I got what I needed from this month, and I’m the boss of me so what I say goes.

The good

I’m glad I gave this a shot. It got me into the habit of running more often, and actually altered my perspective on not running. Running was the default, and the decision not to run was more calculated – I wasn’t just slacking, I was taking a rest day.

I did start out doing more longer runs, which were a LOT of fun but weren’t sustainable through the month. I also reached a major speed goal (look out for a goal update post on this)!

The bad

My legs felt the added stress of running with less recovery time. In the third week I had a little pain in my shins and my knees. After an ambitious start in Week 1, I tried to keep most of my runs to just a mile or two. But that was frustrating too, since the pre- and post-run process takes just as long, even if I only run for half an hour.

I’ve had less time and energy to devote to other things I like to do, particularly cooking and the guitar. I gave the apartment less attention, too – I was busy and tired enough to not care about messes that would usually irk me.

And honestly, I’m tired of washing my hair and my running clothes all the time.

Looking ahead

I’m going to try going down to three or four runs each week. I’d like to focus more on the quality and purpose of the run, rather than running a couple miles just to be able to say that I ran today. And I’d like to take advantage of these long summer afternoons and keep running longer distances!

 

May Running Madness: Week 1

5. RUN 5 DAYS A WEEK FOR ONE MONTH.

I made a strong start to the month with five runs last week, so I’m aiming to cross this one off by the end of May!

The stated objective for this goal is to see how I feel when I run more often, but I’m also hoping that taking the opportunity to build up my weekly mileage will help me accomplish my distance and speed goals.

Running at Spring Lake and Annadel

I did all but one of my runs last week at Spring Lake Regional Park before coming home from work. This means that running becomes the fun thing I get to do after work before I have to go home and do stupid grownup things like laundry and cooking dinner. I also get lots of new trails to explore, because Spring Lake connects with Howarth Park (which apparently also has a train, a carousel and a PETTING ZOO) and Annadel State Park.

An unexpected downside of being so excited about running right now is that I think I may be overdoing it a little. I had intended to start off slowly, keeping it to 2 or 3 mile runs with maybe a 4 on the weekend, but I ended up doing 5.5 miles on Friday and again today.

My knees and ankles are speaking to me, so I’m going to try to keep it at just a couple miles a day for the rest of the week

In summary…

May 2 – 8

Runs: 5
Miles: 16.2 (3.3, 3.1, 2.2, 5.5, 2)
Canada geese seen: Like a million and oh so many goose babbies

Times I kind of got lost: 2… ish. Once I worried I had perhaps ended up at Lake Ralphine in Howarth Park. Another time a trail spat me out into a neighborhood about a mile from the park and I had to run back in through the entrance!

2016 Running Goals Update: March and April

1. RUN 5K IN UNDER 30 MINUTES.

Matched my 5k best from February with another 31:32 last week. This was my first run following a full month of literally not running even once and skipping a lot of runs in March. For the first mile I was a gazelle bounding across the savannah on my fresher-than-fresh legs and the rest was an absolute grind.

2. RUN A MILE IN UNDER 8:30.

Absolutely no further progress or attempts made. I guess running a mile for time is not my idea of fun.

3. RUN 10 MILES.

I’m still working back up to anything longer than 3…

4. TRY RUNNING BEFORE WORK.

Come on, surely I can meet the goal of just trying it one time.

5. RUN 5 DAYS A WEEK FOR ONE MONTH.

I think I might be trying this one right now… we’ll see!

Camping

Well, hi.

One of the reasons I have (not) been doing all those things I usually do was because I spent about two weeks getting ready for, and then two weeks actually on, a road trip. We traveled from Sonoma County out to Albuquerque and back, with a variety of stops along the way. I’m sure I’ll have another thing or two to say about the trip, but I’m inclined to start with what ended up being my favorite part – three nights of car camping at the Grand Canyon.

This first post is mostly about the camping part.

Mather Campground

There are two campgrounds on the South Rim – Mather and Desert View.

Desert View, which has 50 campsites, is 26 miles to the east of the main part of the park. It’s said to be great for stargazing, and is much closer to the rim than Mather. I’ve only been to the Grand Canyon in the middle of summer, so I thought some distance from the crowds might be nice. But Desert View wasn’t scheduled to open until April 17, a week after our arrival date.

Our alternative, Mather Campground, has over 300 campsites. I picked a campsite in the “generator free” Pine Loop. I worried that it might feel crowded, but it’s the only other option inside the park.

While I’d love to see what camping at Desert View is like, Mather was great and I’d camp there again without hesitation. The campsites are large, with plenty of space and tall pine trees between them. And the amenities were excellent – coin-op shower and laundry facilities at the entrance to the campground. We ended up waiting until Albuquerque to do laundry, but the showers were like a dream. Private stalls, with a curtain separating the shower area from the changing area. Can you tell I’m not a true country mouse?

We took turns showering and waiting in the laundry room with our stuff. While waiting, I took advantage of the free wifi – such luxury! – to nervously check the weather.

Setting Up Camp

Our arrival was somewhat complicated by the pouring rain that began as we approached the park. As the primary planner of this trip, I was already 100% certain that everything would go completely wrong. I convinced us that it was going to keep raining forever and we should go ahead and set up the tent immediately. I was already pretty sure we were going to have to give up, stuff the wet tent in a trash bag, and find a motel somewhere.

Of course, the rain almost completely stopped about fifteen minutes after we finished. Lesson learned – wait a while and see if the rain stops. 

To keep from completely losing it at this point, we decided to leave the wet tent be and go see the actual canyon. We arrived to find it full of fog. This was cool, bu it was a relief when the fog briefly cleared and the canyon itself was in view. Oh good, I didn’t drag him all the way out here to look at a big foggy hole. 

We had planned to make dinner at camp, but instead treated ourselves to dinner at the Arizona Room. Mark, the nice waiter, spoke to us in a soothing voice and gave us extra salsa. We ate a hearty chicken and rice soup and salmon.

This was extremely restorative, which was good because the tent situation wasn’t over.

We returned to our campsite. Full of apprehension, I got out of the car and looked in the tent. Yep, it was full of water. I returned to the car. There’s really a lot of water in there, I said. Water inside the tent, water under the tent – it seemed like it had to be totally soaked through.

Brad got out of the car and looked in the tent. He determined that it was not in fact soaked through, and that the water had come in through the window netting before we got the rain fly on.

Thankfully, he was right. After some careful shepherding of water out the door of the tent, and further mopping with both of our towels, we were back in business. We also ended up moving the tent to a spot that seemed less waterlogged, but I’m no longer sure when that happened – it’s lost in the haze. At some point we decided it was dry enough, moved our sleeping bags and pads inside, and went to sleep.

It rained long into the night.

Drying Out

I’m pleased to say that after this rough beginning, the rest of our time at camp was pretty smooth.

At this point, I’ve got to put in a plug for our tent. I’ve spent the last couple years coveting the tents of others while wrestling fiberglass poles into the sleeves of my old family tent. Just before this trip, I finally caved and dragged us to REI. On the way, Brad said something like I probably won’t have much of an opinion on what tent we get.

Unsurprisingly, and fortunately for me, this did not turn out to be true. We bought the Eureka Midori 4 for its full length polyester taffeta rain fly, aluminum poles, and attractive bright green color. It’s on the heavy side, but it’s for car camping – weight was not a concern. And it connects to the poles using those nifty plastic hooks – no sleeves.

I don’t regret it one bit. Once we got it dry inside, it stayed dry. No water came up through the floor. It felt like a miracle.

Camp Mornings

The older I get, the more I realize how much of a morning person I am. I love being up while the world is still, and seeing the whole day laying itself out in front of me.

Camp mornings were next level.

I had imagined making pancakes for breakfast. but never ended up making anything more complicated than coffee and oatmeal. I’d eat, and drink, and sit for a while. The day would begin to warm.

Then I’d start thinking about what I wanted to do that day, and getting our day pack ready. At some point Brad would get up.

The first day we were off and running, the second day he wanted to relax a while. My blood had already turned to coffee and I struggled with waiting. Still, I tried my best to understand the desire for a quiet morning – even if the magical quiet had already passed.

 

Next up, hiking on Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails…

(Not) doing that thing you do

Sometimes, for whatever reason, I end up not doing the things I usually do. Things that I like, things that are good for me, like running, or reading, or playing the guitar, or cooking healthy food, or writing.

Sometimes, predictably, it spirals downward. I feel sad, or tired, or ill, and I don’t do the thing that I like that is good for me, and so I feel worse, and so I keep not doing it, and it goes on.

I have two lessons to take from this. The first is that in general, it’s better to suck it up and do the thing. This is admittedly not news to me, and can’t possibly be to anyone else, but I’m sure this isn’t the last time I’ll learn it.

The second is that there is more to a person than their hobbies, or goals, or successes or failures. I just told someone else this just the other day, but it’s a harder answer to accept than it is to give. Who am I, without the things that I do?